Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Finer Line

Why is this referred to as "trick photography" and not retouching? 20/20 has spent a good amount of time putting together a report on what is essentially false advertising - an altered (photoshopped, retouched, whatever) picture standing in for a lesser reality. The are calling it trick photography, which implies that we as viewers are being tricked? Why is this language so different than the language they use when reporting on the retouching of female models? Is it somehow offensive to our cultural sensibilities to think that we could be tricked by a fashion photo, but acceptable and understandable that we would be tricked by an architectural one? Does it say something about what we think we want? What are the cultural politics of desire that are at work here that we would differentiate so completely between two acts that are the same: altering a photograph.

The net result is also the same - the alteration is used to enhance and entice, to put forth an ideal version of what really exists, whether that is a fashion model or a Bahamian resort. The closest they come to conflating the argument with the fashion retouching brouhaha is the weight loss advertisements, but with those they focus more on the fact that the images were stolen.

The caption for the video segment reads, "From hotel to weight-loss ads, photos altered for perfect results." 20/20's thesis for this type of photo alteration is "buyer beware", rather than responsible advertising or labeling of altered photos.

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